Jan. 11, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State men's and women's indoor track teams will open the 2012 season with top 10 rankings and high hopes of improving on solid finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships, with an eye toward a highly-anticipated, outdoor season.
Coach Bob Braman's FSU men open the season ranked No. 6 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll, while the women check in at No. 9. Both Seminole squads will be represented by a small contingent competing in Saturday's Crimson Tide Indoor Opener at the new CrossPlex Indoor Track & Field Facility in Birmingham, Ala.
The initial rankings are based largely on the returning student-athletes from the 2011 season, which the Seminoles capped with a fifth-place finish by the FSU at the NCAA Indoor Championship and a ninth-place finish by the women.
"I think the men's team is one of the better indoor teams we've had in a while," Braman said. "It is a podium contender - a top-four contender - if we stay healthy. Our focus won't change. We'll focus on outdoor track - that's our No. 1 goal - but we'll focus on doing as well as we can in the explosive events, sprints, jumps and throws."
Senior All-American sprinter and Olympic hopeful Maurice Mitchell will lead the way for the Seminoles after finishing second in the 200 and third in the 60 at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships. In fact, the `Noles should continue to boast one of the nation's top sprint contingents, which received a boost with the January arrival of LSU transfer Horatio Williams. Williams was a five-time All-American for the Tigers last season.
Senior Michael Putman, and All-American outdoors in the shot put, is back for his final season with the `Noles. Junior Andrew Lahaye was an All-American outdoors in the pole vault. Braman will also look to Paul Madzivire and Phillip Young to pick up the scoring slack left behind by multi-time NCAA champion long jumper Ngoni Makusha.
On the women's side, senior Amanda Winslow is the lone returning NCAA Indoor Nationals scorer, after placing fifth in the mile run in 2011. That doesn't mean the `Noles will be short on those with championship meet experience.
FSU will have to find a way to replace the scoring of graduated All-American Kim Williams, who spent her entire career on the NCAA podium in the triple jump and long jump.
"On the women's send, you miss a superstar in Kim Williams, who won three triple jump titles," Braman said.
Distance coach Karen Harvey's crew could provide some help. In addition to Winslow, graduate student Hannah Brooks is coming off an All-American performance outdoors in the 1,500 meters, while Violah Lagat looks like a potential scorer in the 800.
"Coach Harvey is going to put together a really good distance medley team together this year," said Braman, figuring a quartet that will include Winslow, Brooks and Lagat, plus touted freshman sprinter Jande Pierce in the 400, should score well at nationals.
While Braman's focus will be clearly on preparing for the outdoor season, the `Noles should still be a formidable challenger, especially on the men's side, when they head to Reggie Lewis Center in Boston for the ACC Indoor Championships, Feb. 23-25.